Bon Ami Factory (1888)

January 4th, 2012 Posted in Industrial, Italianate, Manchester

Bon Ami

The former factory building at 71 Hilliard Street in Manchester was built in 1887-1888 and was first occupied by the Mather Electric Company. After starting as a producer of dynamos, the company began to manufacture light bulbs. The Edison General Electric Company sued the Mather Company for patent infringement and the latter was eventually put out of business. The factory was then rented by other industrial tenants. In 1903, it was purchased by the Bon Ami Company (earlier the Orford or Robertson Soap Company), which had been renting space in the building since their first factory on Oakland Street in Manchester burned down in 1899. The company produced the popular Bon Ami Soap in the factory until 1959. The building then housed other businesses. In 1980, Bob Bell purchased part of the property, which became home to what is now New England Hobby. Since 1999, the Time Machine hobby shop has also been located in the building, making it the largest hobby retail location in New England.

  1. 2 Responses to “Bon Ami Factory (1888)”

  2. By Marguerite OBrien-Jeannot on Feb 17, 2013

    I grew up on Oakland St which was originally the Estate of the Bon Ami Factory owners. The house was a 13 room Victorian on approx 2 acres with many beautiful trees,Pines from Japan, Black Walnut,Cedar,Chestnut,Schamore, Beech. The house had streached canvas ceilings and Crown Moldings and Marble fireplace and a tin roofed sun room that had 11 windows, also a barn and ornamental wood work. Our drive way was made of the raw Bon Ami. Later the house was owned by Mrs. Robertson a educator, the local elementary school “The Robertson School” was named after her I went to this school from K to 6th grade.

  3. By Joan E. Landers on Nov 13, 2017

    Hi, Marguerite O’Brien Jeannot, I read this comment comment you made on February 17, 2013, about the house on Oakland St., that you grew up in that had originally been the “Estate of the Bon Ami Factory owners.” I also grew up in Manchester, my parents having bought our house on Broad St., in 1946. Is that house still standing, or did it get torn down in the reconstruction of North Main and Oakland Sts., in the mid-1960s? I,for one, was Not happy with what they did to the Northend. As far as I’m concerned the ‘town fathers’ and whoever they hired to do the reconstruction, did Not have the foresight or love of old iconic buildings that could have been repurposed for other uses, including housing for the elderly, instead of what is there now. I also went to Robertson for 2nd to 6th grades, 1948-1952. What years were you there? Are you aware that there is a website, GrewUpInManchester [CT]where a lot of Manchester photos, from the late 1880s to more present years, are shared as well as comments.

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